Joe Hockey's tax disclosure wind-back is a 'reform' nobody asked for, The Guardian, 21 August
This week’s Parliamentary sittings began with the tabling of a Senate report into how some big companies are dodging their tax bills. The report found that billions of dollars are draining offshore through holes in the tax system. It called for better tax transparency to hold companies accountable for shirking their fair share.
Asked on ABC radio what the government was doing about the problem, Treasurer Joe Hockey pointed out that a law requiring the tax office to disclose the tax paid by large firms was about to come into effect. What he didn’t say was that he was about to gut that law.
The Parliamentary week has ended with the Abbott Government introducing a bill to help some of Australia’s biggest companies keep their tax dealings secret. This means we’ll never know just how much dodging they may be getting away with. Far from backing better transparency, the Abbott Government is actually working to shield huge firms from any public scrutiny.
The Coalition’s bill is designed to eviscerate transparency laws Labor put in place in 2013. Labor’s laws require the Australian Tax Office to publish information about the income and tax paid by companies earning more than $100 million.
IT’S OFFICIAL – GOVERNMENT’S TOP TAX PRIORITY IS GUTTING TRANSPARENCY
The Abbott Government has today shown that its top priority on tax is helping big companies keep secret how much they really pay.
In the very same week a major Senate report has called for better tax transparency, the Abbott Government has introduced legislation to gut Australia’s existing tax transparency laws.
This morning, Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will table a bill that will roll back Labor’s transparency rules, introduced in 2013.
These laws require the Australian Tax Office to publish information about the income and tax paid by companies earning over $100 million a year.
Joe Hockey was spruiking these very rules on ABC Radio just three days ago when arguing against the need for better transparency.
ABBOTT’S CUTS LEAD CSIRO TO SELL THE FARM – LITERALLY
Australia’s premier research agency has been forced to turn property developer to make up for the Abbott Government’s deep funding cuts.
Today, the CSIRO announced it is seeking approval to re-develop a major tract of land in Canberra that has previously been used for agricultural research.
The agency has asked the National Capital Authority to re-zone the Ginninderra Field Station Site on the Barton Highway as 'Urban Area' in the next amendment to the National Capital Plan, due out next year. This would allow CSIRO to sell or build on the site for commercial development.
CSIRO would not need to sell off its assets if the Abbott Government hadn’t slashed $115 million from its funding in the 2014 Budget.
RADIO NATIONAL DRIVE
TUESDAY, 18 AUGUST 2015
SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality; Dyson Heydon; EPBC Act.
PATRICIA KARVELAS: We're joined in our Parliament House studio by Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Dr Andrew Leigh – hi Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: G'day Patricia.
KARVELAS: And the New South Wales Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos. Hi Arthur.
ARTHUR SINODINOS, SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES: Hi Patricia.
KARVELAS: Let's start with you, Arthur Sinodinos: why do frontbenchers need the riot act read to them? What's going wrong?
SINODINOS: Because last week we had a process of discussion in the party room on same-sex marriage which came to a disposition, which later became a decision, about a process for allowing the people to have a vote on this in the next Parliament. So then what happened afterwards is that various frontbenchers were out there, before there'd been a Cabinet discussion, giving their view about the form in which this consultation of the people should occur. What the Prime Minister was indicating, I think, in the party room today was that this is not the appropriate way to go about it and with the Canning by-election coming our way very soon, we need to make sure we are speaking with one voice and restoring Cabinet government so we can get on with focusing on the things that matter most to the people of Australia.
KARVELAS: But I've got to ask, Arthur Sinodinos, is there a position? You don't really have one yet – there’s only a sort of half position.
SINODINOS: The undertaking the Prime Minister gave to the party room was to come back with a process after consulting the Cabinet, and bring it to the party room in the next little while. I think that means, probably, when we're next sitting again.
FAIRFAX BREAKING POLITICS
MONDAY, 17 AUGUST 2015
SUBJECT/S: Marriage equality; Tax transparency; Environmental Protection Act.
CHRIS HAMMER: Andrew Leigh, given that it appears that it's unlikely there will be a vote in Parliament on same-sex marriage and there's now a debate about plebiscites verses referendums before, during or after the election, where do you think we should head?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Chris, I think people are making this more complicated than it needs to be. When the Marriage Act was changed in 2004 to prevent same-sex marriage, none of the conservatives – Tony Abbott included – said that that should go to the people. The talk now of a plebiscite or referendum is just a delaying tactic, a blocking tactic which is, as today's polls show, against the wishes of two-thirds of Australians.
HAMMER: It's not a scuttling tactic?
LEIGH: It's probably that as well. But this is not a reform which ought to be threatening to Australians. This will strengthen traditional marriages, not weaken them. It will put us in the position of following the rest of the advanced countries in the English speaking world – countries like New Zealand, Britain, Ireland and the United States where the forecast plagues of locusts have not materialised since same-sex marriage has been allowed.Read more
JOE AND JOSH PRESS THE PANIC BUTTON AS TAX INACTION LAID BARE
Joint media release with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen
The Abbott Government is a shambles on multinational tax, as ministers desperately try to hide their inaction on making multinationals pay their fair share.
Later today the Senate’s corporate tax inquiry will table a report which lays bare the worrying scale of tax avoidance by big multinationals.
Joe Hockey and Josh Frydenberg have been out spinning hard in response, but they can’t even get their own policies straight.
Teamwork the key to success, The Chronicle, 4 August 2015
In 1990, as the Voyager 1 spacecraft was leaving our solar system, astronomer Carl Sagan persuaded NASA to turn the camera around and take one last photo of earth. In the image, our planet appears as a pinpoint in the midst of space.
The photo – known as ‘Pale Blue Dot’ – hangs on the wall of my Parliament House office, as a reminder to keep things in perspective. But the fact of the photo is also an awesome reminder of what humans can achieve together.Read more
PYNE: STOP THE PAYBACK AND PAY WHAT YOU OWE
Joint media release with Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education Kim Carr
The Abbott Government is vindictively withholding funding from the University of Canberra, despite being required to pay it under a signed contract.
In mid-2013, the university signed an agreement with the Commonwealth to establish a ‘Centre for Quality Teaching and Learning’ at the University of Canberra.
The role of the centre was to help Australia place in the top five countries globally in reading, maths and science by 2025 through increasing teacher effectiveness.
In 2014 – nearly a year into the agreement – Education Minister Christopher Pyne cancelled the contract for the Centre. The Government has since refused to pay the $4.4 million that the University of Canberra says it is owed.
FAIRFAX BREAKING POLITICS
MONDAY, 10 AUGUST 2015
SUBJECT/S: Entitlements; bracket creep; GST; budget.
CHRIS HAMMER: Andrew Leigh, six weeks of parliamentary break, the Government is still doing badly in the polls. Is that simply because of the entitlements issue or do you think there is more to it than that?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Chris, as many serious commentators are starting to ask: what is the point of the Abbott Government? Where is their serious reform agenda? Where are the things they want to put in place in order to create a better future for the next generation of Australians? We have got a Government which is so beset by internal infighting, so concerned with itself that it has lost touch with the concerns of everyday Australians. The importance of seeing more jobs, better paid jobs, has been lost in a context now in which we have got the highest unemployment rate in two decades. We have got sluggish wage growth, and according to the Climate Institute, we are not going to make our 2020 carbon targets. There is a range of really concerning intergenerational factors about the current state of play in Australia.
SKY AM AGENDA
MONDAY, 10 AUGUST 2015
SUBJECT/S: Speaker; tax rate competitiveness; emissions reductions targets.
KIERAN GILBERT: With me now is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Andrew Leigh, and also Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Steve Ciobo. Gentlemen, good morning. Steve, after the Budget it looked like it was a more solid performance, things had started to turn around. But now the trend is back away from the Government. That's got to be a bit of a worry as we head back into the spring session of Parliament?
STEVE CIOBO, PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE: Kieran, in shocking news, I'm going to tell you of course we make policy decisions based on what we believe to be in Australia's national interest. None of us get particularly excited about polls that go up, polls that go down, there are polls done almost every second day. As far as I'm concerned, as far as the Government is concerned, we were elected to do a job and that was to stop the boats, to abolish the carbon tax, to make sure that as a nation we get our finances under control and every single day we work toward doing that. Our $89 billion announcement to make sure that both our defence industries and South Australia are on a solid footing going forward is an example of that. And we continue to pursue economic reform that is in Australia's best interest.Read more